The Video: The Shooting of John T. Williams

Comments

1
this is too horrible for words.
2
Well that was disturbing. Sports radio adds to the creepiness.
3
We worship death. Watch it again. Watch it again.
4
I'd like to see the video from the first and second police cars that arrived after Burke. Those cameras would probably show Burke's body language after the shooting.
5
I wish I hadn't watched that :(
6
In the span of 40 seconds someone goes from walking across the street, minding their own business, doing something his family has done for generations, to being shot to death by a Seattle cop.

Fuck. The. Police.

Never trust a cop.
7
1:53 - "Did you just shoot him?!"
2:03 - "He didn't do anything!"
to which he replies, "Ma'am he had a knife and wouldn't drop it."

She saw. She knew.
8
The police had made a case in the media that Mr. Williams was an aggressive and threatening inebriate towards police on many occasions. I saw a guy crossing the street with his carving in that video. It just changed my whole perspective on the case. I'd love to hear what the woman who was crossing the street has to say.
9
Murder. Followed by lies.
10
@3:15: "who's the designated shooter? Who already shot him? So shoot him again if need be..."

Did I really hear that correctly? That's fucking gut-wrenching.

You know what? I think somebody puts a carving knife in the cop's hand and gives him five seconds of warning before somebody puts five rounds in him. If he can take down the guy with the gun, he'd be justified, right? Make him prove his point.

Instead, he'll probably just keep getting paid to not work until they put him on a desk job until enough people forget. I no longer have any respect for the SPD.
11
FUCK YOU SPD. FUCKING ASSHOLES
12
Horrible. Mrs. 1:40 needs to step forward and give testimony. This was straight-up murder by police. Ian Birk should be in prison.
13
7 seconds pass from the first "Hey!"...notice the officer never stated he was with the police...to when the first shot is fired.

Disgraceful!! He should be tried for murder!
14
I can say this about many of the men and women in blue...they'd be better off dead than alive. Not all of them but huge portion of them.

When I see a police officer walking down the street I cross to the other side. They scare me more than gang members in this town.
15
I'll bet the Guild has this on endless loop at tonite's Happy Hour.

After all, so long as the Council and Mayor won't insist on civilian oversight, they can run scotfree through our streets doing whatever they want.
16
if only he would have went after the white car that ran the yellow light!

so fucked.
17
Many, many words can be applied to Officer Birk: judge, jury, executioner... liar, asshole....

But the most fitting one is: Murderer.

Murderer.
18
(short edited version)

"BANG! BANG! BANG!"

"Surrender, we're the police!"

"Your dead corpse has the right to remain silent. In the event you stop being dead, the court will appoint someone who will not defend you, and I'll be let free again without bail."

"Do you understand these rights as I have read them to your dead and lifeless body?"
19
This is terrifying. No announcement that the man is a police officer, in seven seconds he goes from yelling at someone while their back is turned to firing five shots. Absolutely terrifying.
20
@10 ... I think you heard right.
21
and why no audio until he is already out of his vehicle? wouldnt he have said something to "dispatch" as pulled the var ahead those last couple of feet and jumped out?

plain execution.
22
wow. the police should not put up with this. if they really want to be considered the good guys they need to prosecute this stuff. there should be no tolerance for this kind of harassment and murder. none.
23
12 seconds between getting out of the car and killing that man.

7 seconds between yelling at the man and killing the man.

4 seconds between telling the man to put the knife down and killing the man.
24
Listen to him repeat 'Ordered multiple times to drop it.' He keeps repeating it, over and over.

You can hear it in his voice -- desperately trying to justify it to himself. Desperately trying to excuse what he just did.

Fucking MURDERER.
25
Absolutely fucking disgusting. The only positive thing I can say about this video is that it's existence might get him convicted of murder.

If he doesn't rot in prison, may he be torn limb from limb by an angry mob.
26
he looks so threatening, you know, to the general public as he shuffles across the street in his socks (?????)

this makes me very sad. and very angry
27
@10, This sound bite sounds horrible in light of the circumstances we now know, but for the officers arriving on scene, simply knowing that shots were fired on a supposedly hostile subject brandishing a knife--and assuming the suspect was still alive and still possibly aggressive--it sounds more like routine safety measures, i.e. one officer covering other officers who are approaching a suspect with a weapon (which is standard procedure and how Officer Birk should've handled the situation--by calling for backup before approaching the suspect). Here's the whole dialogue:

"Hold on guys, let's get over here, let's get in single file, we’ll walk together, alright? Who’s the designated shooter? We’ve already shot him, so [but?] shoot him again if need be."
"I got it."
"Let’s move up."
"I got it, I got the suspect."
"We’re going to move up, alright?"
"Go."
"Moving."
"Ready, get the cuffs out. Grab him, grab his hands, roll him over..."

Still horrible to listen to, though.
28
I can't get over the short amount of time elapsed inbetween getting out the squad car & gunshots......whoa
29
This is awful. Fuck SPD.
30
Absolutely chilling. A gruesome act of murder. They must try Officer Ian Birk for murder. I can't remember--had Mr. Williams and Birk met previously? If so, this seems like some kind of atrocious score-settling. If not, this looks like antisocial personality disorder. SPD, please start holding your officers accountable.

And this is written by someone with friends on the force!
31
Murder? Oh ladies, grow up. The most he's guilty if is not following proper procedures. Fire him.

And sorry nervous white middle class Sloggers, unless you're shit faced, carrying a knife and refusing to follow legal orders of an officer, you'll be fine, no need to pee yourselves when the SPD comes to help you one day.
32
If he isn't charged are you all going to demand McGinn resign or dies the buck not stop with you guy?
33
@31
fuck you, your mother, and your dog, you physcholigically fractured bastard. argue your crazy ape-man idiocy to the wall.
34
Cops really shouldn't be listening to anything in the squad car radio for the simple reason that it interferes with important dialog that is being recorded.....its akin to having a mouse running around on your dashboard impeding the camera.....essentially defeating the purpose. I really think this should be a law....or perhaps the engineers/mechanics who wire up the car can have the AM/FM radio muted when the police car lights are turned on.
35
@32 no, it's Council that refuses to require civilian accountability for the SPD in the negotiations - they're the legislative body, remember?
36
@34, the right channel has very little of the radio on it. If anyone wants to copy the right channel over to the left before I do, It'd be appreciated. Either way, this could be cleaned up a lot.

Though, even with the audio cleaned up, I don't think it's going to make the crime here any more obvious. It's already obvious enough. Though I might like to hear what else this sniveling piece of shit happened to say afterward. It'd be a case study in self deception.
37
Why is there no discussion about getting these shit-stained drunken Indians off our streets? They need to be in jail or back on the "rez". Give them a choice.
38
Let's demonize the entire profession. Logical-ass motherfuckers up in here.
39
Ian Birk really strutted as he got out of the car and walked toward Williams. That sort of surprised me when I watched this.
40
@36 - We've isolated the right channel and will have a new video with only the right-channel audio posted asap.
41
Hang that man from a fucking tree.
42
@36
oh interesting, I wonder if the right channel microphone is mounted outside the vehicle and the left channel mic is inside?
43
Strutted? Would you prefer cops sashayed?
44
@38 The CHZA wrote, "Let's demonize the entire profession. Logical-ass motherfuckers up in here."

Someone please direct me to a single instance of a police officer denouncing the actions of this ogre.
45
The whole incident is incredible. But what's most striking is that from contact to killing was less than the time it takes for a lady to cross a street.

This cop should be prosecuted for murder. He had the intent. He did the act. If a jury buys the argument it was self defense, so be it, but he should be prosecuted. He should receive no immunity as he failed to follow proper procedures.

Working in Pioneer Square, I walk by drunken homeless people everyday and I have yet felt a need to run away from them, let alone shoot them. This cop made a tragic mistake, now he must be responsible for his actions. Very simple. I'd convict him.

46
"41
Hang that man from a fucking tree."

He's already dead.
47
The most upsetting aspect of this altercation is that all of it could have been resolved with words.

48
Anyone else notice the video doesn't actually show what happened ?
49
Also, notice Birk already had his gun out by the time he's on frame, and waits until himself and Williams are completely out of the camera's sight. He did not appear frightened, if anything he seemed relaxed and purposeful. Maybe even a little excited.

At first I was willing to write this off as simple incompetence (for which he should be tried, of course), but after seeing this there's absolutely no way to continue believing that.

As for the woman potentially testifying, where is she? If somebody watching recognizes her, can they vouch for her safety? Who handles witness protection when the murderer is a cop?
50
@49 ... okay, that last paragraph is just goofy.
51
I wonder if Mike "The Gasman" Gastineau will have to testify in court?

Seriously though, this cop needs to go away for a long, long time. There was no justification for this shooting what so ever. What a sad story.
52
@31 - Wish you were even partially correct. Unfortunately, we keep seeing evidence to contrary. In this case, the man was carrying a closed knife and was sober. Shot dead. In the "Mexican Piss" incident, an innocent unarmed man was walking down the street. In the recent Kid getting beat up in a mini-mart incident, again, kid, unarmed, buying a candy bar.

Oh, that's right, they weren't white. Wonder if that had anything to do with these people being beat up and shot.

I know many great cops. I rely on them often. I also know, and they know, that there is a problem inside of the SPD. And the public has lost faith in them because it's not being addressed by our electeds on City Council. Not good for the cops, not good for the City.

City Council - we need YOU to do something. Not just allowing someone else to investigate. Action. More SPD oversight with teeth. NOW. Do more people need to die before you act? Seriously, this is fucked up.
53
Fucking horrible, he needs to be prosecuted for murder.
54
"seemed relaxed and purposeful. Maybe even a little excited"

Actually, I think he looks somewhat perturbed, maybe even flummoxed with a hint of delusionment.
55
@52, Meinert wrote, "I know many great cops. I rely on them often."

They're out publicly denouncing Birk's actions, right?
56
@50 - Oh that's right, she's white. They can't just gun her down with impunity. How silly of me.
57
The mexican's hombre I'd being charged with robbery with a machete and the bottle if Corona in this case was present at the robbery but not charged. Read the report.
58
@56 you got that right.

One rule for whites.

One gun for everyone else.

Got Justice?

Not in Seattle.
59
Why dont cops talk? Because everyday they risk their lives to protect your ass and have the right to use deadly force to do that.

Even if a cop has his doubts, why give you unreasonable cop hating assholes ammunition?
60
How come I haven't seen Chief Diaz's name in this thread yet?
61
@59: Police don't risk their lives every day, and most of what they do is not protection. Roofers risk their lives every day.
62
@59 - Because they're meant to protect US, not other members of their little gang. They have the right to use force to do that because we fucking gave it to them. We have a right to take it back if they abuse it, as SPD have increasingly been doing. It's not us vs. them, they're our employees and they're meant to enforce the rules that we set. This includes upon themselves. If they fail to do that we have a right an obligation to fire them.
63
Some observations:

As people noticed, the left channel is the in-car mic and the right channel is the officer-worn mic.

At about 6:50 into the video, an officer instructs Birk to remove his officer-worn microphone and put it in his car, which he does. Since Birk's statements and actions in the minutes following the incident were direct evidence as to his conduct and state of mind, it puzzles me that SPD deliberately disabled the system that was collecting that evidence.

(It's also worth mentioning that section 17.260 of the SPD Manual says, "The DICVS (--that's Digital In-Car Video System --) will not be deactivated during citizen contacts.")
64
@52 they know? Then how about some of them come to the news media anonymously to speak out?
65
Fnarf, what about your hero McGunn Surely the buck stops with Jim?
66
@44: Police officers generally are not allowed to speak on the record concerning issues that are currently under investigation, unless given permission from higher-ups to do so. It's the same with soldiers.
67
@66: Good point. Somebody please direct me to a single instance of a police officer denouncing the actions of similar ogres after the investigation into their heinous behavior has concluded.

Also, does anyone know if Birk is still on paid vacation?
68
@63, but of course once Williams was dead it was no longer a citizen contact. Convenient, that.

I'm at work so I haven't heard the audio, but I watched the video's first three minutes until the other cops arrive. That's enough to make the cop look like a murderer. The rest is just sickening corroboration.
69
Fuck the PO-lice comin' straight from the middle-class / young brah got it bad cause I smoke grass
70
What a video. I'm FLOORED. I am very pro-cop, and there's little defense for this one's actions here. The timeline does not support Birk's report. Period. Anyone who saw this happen has a moral obligation to speak up. If you're in the video, all the more because you have proof that you were there.
71
I hate how they keep using the word "suspect".

72
I hate how we all just watched a man take his last steps.
73
I hate how not a soul will ever face charges for this.
74
I hate how empty this makes me feel.
75
wow as a former police officer i have to say that was completely fucked up. i'm sure if this wasn't witnessed the way it was they woulda put a throw away in his hand. common practice in new york thats how i know. this is fucked up. yes i would prosecute this cop , no questions asked.
76
apparently the SPD, like the military, has lowered their standards for the force. you'd think they'd want smarter cops out there, not giving the rest of the force a bad name.

given the complete lack of oversight of SPD in the last few years, i will be horrified, but not surprised if this fucktard who should be the one gunned down, gets off. seriously fucking sick of the douchenozzles who are paid to protect the citizens of this city.
77
@31 "Murder? Oh ladies, grow up. The most he's guilty if is not following proper procedures. Fire him."

The rules of my job also restrict me from shooting customers to death, and if I break those rules I'll face murder charges. Why should cops be held to different standard?
78
WHERE'S DIAZ?

It all comes from Chief Diaz. He's the patrol officer's boy. They know he will always support them; that's how he got to be chief. If you know you can get away with murder, you'll sink to murder.

It's been almost four months; why are we not hearing the sounds of balls being busted over there? Because Diaz works for the officers, not the other way around.

It's not about Birk. Birk screwed up. It happens. He misread the situation and made a deadly error. The problem is the attitude that Birk carried with him into that situation, which every officer carries with him, and about the cover they know they have from any repercussions. That's not Birk's fault, it's Diaz's.
79
@78 Diaz and Burgess are SPD. There is no oversight. Until the Council and Mayor buck up and refuse a new labor deal come 12/31. But still--neither the Stranger or Publicola have covered the state of labor negotiations between the SPD in light of this bloody year. If it was covered in the Times or PI, I missed it there as well.

Why is no one reporting on that? Is it a topic people are unwilling to cover? I don't get it.
80
@79, it's a hard topic to cover because it's closed-door. Labor negotiations are not open to the public or the press. That's not going to change.
81
@80 some papers in this town are willing to write a post calling on people to contact the Council and Mayor with clickable email links calling for us to make sure the right park ends up in a community space.

I'm saddened they haven't done likewise to ensure that the Mayor and Council don't let the SPD off the hook without getting a new labor deal which includes sharp teeth for OPA in light of this bloody and violent year. It would probably burn bridges to kingdom come between said paper and some police, but... its the right thing to do. I've called the Mayor's office and contacted people on the council about this. Everyone needs to.

Or if the city leadership won't man up, maybe a city level initiative that would prohibit the city from accepting a labor deal in 2012 and going forward that didn't include certain concessions. No strong OPA=no labor deal.
82
Yeah, what @79 said --

Why SPD's sweetheart deal with Stafford Frey? Why OPA's procedural handicaps? Why no legal indemnity for the OPA's civilian review board? Why no legal power whatsoever for the OPA's civilian auditor?

Same answer to all four questions: SPOG. Somebody oughta write a story on 'em. Nudge, cough, Dominic.
83
@82 OPA with final disciplinary authority, let them appeal to the full Council. The 99.999% of SPD that are good cops would have nothing to every worry about. If it rousts out 1-5 crap cops, then good riddance.

It's absurd that the Chief of Police can procedurally veto any decision of OPA. Did you all know that? Diaz has a blank check. That has to end forever, it's a ridiculous benefit.

OPA membership= no police oversight in the process.

The Stafford Frey thing is done now, isn't it? The SPOG should be free to hire whomever they would like for their personal defense. The City, as their employers, can hire whomever we deem.
84
@83, on that note,

Did you know the OPA auditor is not allowed to know the identities of the officers being investigated, and thus may not review videos showing the officers?
85
@84 really? I didn't know that. This SPOG contract sounds like a joke designed to hurt Seattle residents.
86
I like how that womans reaction to the shooting was the similar to the way I react to the clipboard cause people on broadway. Annoyed/stunned/confused.
87
@84, wait, what the fuck? That has to be in error. We were specifically told (I think here on Stranger on the Times) that OPA was investigating the Birk. I know for a fact that OPA is investigating the medical marijuana home invasion because I was in a mail thread with someone at City Hall about that--after I complained about it--and who looped in both John Diaz and the head of OPA, who out of the blue told that OPA was looking into that home invasion based on the referral. I apparently got there first thanks to the Council staffer CCing me and everyone else. The names of the involved officers there have been all over the news as well when it happened, thanks to Dom. So is this true?
88
Well, I know that if I was mayor, the chief would be in my office right now, and I'd be telling him, look, I don't give a shit about OPA or anyone else or what they think; _I'M_ telling you that this is unacceptable to _ME_ and I want to hear how you're going to get the force under control, and I want to hear it very soon. I don't want to hear about promises and investigations and action plans and bullet points; I want to hear that this shit is stopped, and that every single one of your officers understands that, or I'm going to be hearing you packing up your desk.

Unfortunately, there's no way the mayor can win a showdown like that. He picked the wrong man. He simply doesn't have the power to control his own force. The SPOG is going to tell him, "it's OK, man, we've got it, it'll never happen again" and then it will happen again.
89
00:59

Williams is crossing the street, and it appears the knife is open and is scraping something.

Repeat, he has an open knife.

Cop sees man, walking in a less than alert manner (looking down while crossing, holding open knife).

So, when he leaves car, in his mind, is a disheveled man with an open knife. At what point the knife gets closed I don't know...but maybe it was done while Williams back was turned, therefore, the cop assumes its still open as Williams comes toward him.

Interpretation:

1. Man with open knife, seen as threat
2. Cop pursues
3. Man turns and rushes toward cop
4. Cop asks man to halt.
5. He does not.
6 Cop stops him.
90
Ian Birk is a fucking scumbag.
91
@87: Joe: I want to know, too. Dom?

@88: Fnarf: Right on. SPOG puts us all in danger. So what can we do?

@89: Doubtful. When Birk was babbling his excuses to his buddies after he killed Williams, surely he would have accused Williams of charging him if Williams had made even the slightest indication of doing so. And if I remember correctly, he shot Williams in the side. Williams didn't seem agile enough to have galloped at Birk.
92
Your premise is flawed, as is your logic. Man with open knife CARVING, should not be seen as a threat any more than a baker with knife cutting bread should be.
93
@87, @91,

I should clarify: it's the OPA auditor (and the review board as well, actually) that is not allowed to know the identities of the officers involved. The OPA investigators are not bound by the same restriction. The demarcation is pretty clear: the investigators, being officers themselves, get all the information. The OPA review board & auditor, being civilians, are kept in the dark as to officer identities.

94
Photos of him should be posted around town with the word "murderer" under it. Everyone in Seattle should know who this asshole is!
95
I made a mistake which I need to correct. Per SMC 3.28.855, the OPA civilian auditor "may audit any and all OPA records."

I could have sworn I saw a rule which stated otherwise somewhere, but for the moment it appears to me that it's only the OPA's civilian review board that is not allowed to know the identities of officers being investigated.
96
It's a dangerous time in Seattle to be a nonwhite man of indeterminate age.
97
Aaaaaaand, I'm back for a second helping of crow.

I just learned that the former practice of withholding the identities of officers from the review board was abolished about a year ago:

Ruling expands review board's access to …
98
My grandmother used to tell me that they used to hunt indians down back home in indian country and lynch them, burn them or just shoot them in the street, even in the 20s and 30s. Her hallmark of a good police force is one that doesn't do that, one that can rise above this primal need to shoot the gawky injun.

This is a very bad police force indeed. His co-workers may not have done what he's done, but they've remained silent. They've covered for him. They've protected him. They've taken him at his word.

This whole thing has sickened me, it's depressed me, it's bothered me. I thought, growing up Comanche in a very culturally robust household, I thought I'd never have to sit here and think about the possibility of, say, what if this was one of my relatives? The Comanche broke off soon after returning from thire last trip down the Snake River and down the Columbia and up to the Puget Sound with the Shoshone, and so certainly this man was a relative, he was a long-distant brother and he was shot like a dog in the street.

This is the most fucked up thing I've had to watch unfold in years.
99
I could have sworn I grew up in a country where a man was innocent until proven guilty. Where did all of you grow up?

On January 20th an inquest into the death of Mr. Williams will convene. At that inquest Officer Birk will face the video, any witnesses to the shooting or physical evidence around it, and whatever other testimony is relevant. If evidence of a crime supports it he likely will be charged with whatever crime the county prosecutor thinks appropriate.

Releasing this video prior to that hearing is the worst kind of grandstanding. As much as Mr. Williams had the right to walk the streets, disheveled or not, Officer Birk has a right to an unbiased hearing.

All of the bigotry and hatred of the police would be amusing if it weren't so disgusting. Officers are not heroes, just because they are in law enforcement. They are men and women doing a difficult job for decent but not spectacular pay. They see things you and I don't want to or, because of them, have to see. And they are entitled to due process as surely as you and I are.
100
@99 you mean the same due process that John T. Williams received, right?